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THE EDGE Property Excellence Awards 2013: The heart of a green community

The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2013 - Winner: Setia City Mall, Shah Alam - Greenhill Resources Sdn Bhd

SITUATED in the centre of S P Setia Bhd’s 240-acre commercial hub Setia City is Setia City Mall — also known as the green heart of the development.

The developer calls the mall this for good reason. It is  recognised as the first green mall in Malaysia. It has dual accreditation — Green Mark from the Singapore Building and Construction Authority and Malaysia’s Green Building Index (GBI).  Setia City Mall is the winner of The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2013.

Setia City is part of the award-winning 2,500-acre Setia Alam township in Shah Alam, Selangor. Setia City Mall was jointly developed by S P Setia and Asian Retail Investment Fund 2, which is managed by Australia’s Lend Lease. All commercial buildings in Setia City have to be GBI certified, making the commercial hub a pioneer in green architecture in Malaysia. The mall is managed by Greenhill Resources Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of S P Setia.

“Right from the start, we knew we wanted a very green township and Setia City Mall to be the heart of the community,” says Datuk Khor Chap Jen, executive vice-president of S P Setia.

Targeted at middle-class families of all races, the drivers of the mall can be summarised as aspirational yet affordable, says Robert Spinks, development director of Setia City Mall and Lend Lease Projects (M) Sdn Bhd.

“We tried to find out what the community was interested in and what would drive them to the mall. What we uncovered and subsequently came up with was a fun and affordable family experience that encompasses amazing green spaces, fantastic shops, great food and entertainment. Our values are fun, freedom, inclusivity and convenience,” says Spinks.

“The process was very inclusive. We had a lot of discussions with the residents on top of an extensive market research,” says Khor.

Spinks (left) and Khor are proud of the response from the retailers and community

Setia City Mall has 740,000 sq ft of retail space with over 230 international and local retailers. Built at a  gross development cost of RM490 million, it was opened in May 2012. Adjacent to the mall is a 10-acre urban park that features, among others, a children’s playground and a water plaza. The mall is connected to the Setia City Convention Centre via a covered walkway.

The mall was already 98% leased when it opened and the remaining 2% was leased within the subsequent six months. It is currently 100% leased.

Setting a new standard

“One of the first things we realised when we started the project was that GBI did not have a rating for shopping malls while Green Mark already had one. That’s why we decided to get the Green Mark accreditation first and spearhead the initiative with GBI to develop a rating tool for shopping malls,” says Khor.

According to Spinks, working on the green rating tool was a challenge. “There was a lot of discussion between all the parties involved including other mall developers about the direction to take the tool. GBI really pushed that through and delivered.”

Studies were also conducted on daylight harvesting, indoor air quality optimisation, glazing materials comparison, humidity sensors for air handling units, motor efficiency for fan coil units, and usage of bi-folding versus double doors for al fresco food and beverage outlets.

“We made sure that there is a lot of natural lighting, the orientation minimises the heat load during the day and the indoor air quality is of the highest standard,” says Spinks.

Thermal comfort meters were installed to predict and maintain the temperature within reasonable levels. Low emissivity (low-E) glazing was used to shield the internal space from radiant heat, which helps to improve the thermal comfort of the building while providing natural day lighting.

Only energy efficient compact fluorescent lights and energy saving escalators, travelators and lifts — with crawl speeds and sleep modes when not in use — were utilised.

Furthermore, sustainable building materials were used — recycled formwork; ceiling boards, plasterboards for internal partitions and toilet cubicle partitions with high recycled content; and paints and adhesives, carpets and timber with low volatile organic compounds.

“During the construction, it was about waste management and ensuring the recyclable materials are put back into the system,” says Spinks.

Pre-cast beams and hollow core slabs ensured fast, easy and precise installations, less pollution on site and better quality construction.

Spinks says there were minimal major earthworks as Setia City Mall is a greenfield project and the land was already cleared. Excavated earth was re-used on site to help reduce the fuel required to transport excess earth to another site, and blasted rocks from the site were recycled to form the pond edges for the man-made lake next to the mall.

Also, rain water and construction water was recycled and a silt pond was employed to collect all surface run-off. The water was later used to  keep exposed earth wet to prevent air pollution, and to clean the roads and lorries on the site.

Safety and security were also given priority. Car parks are well lit with a clear line of sight, toilets are located away from the mall exits to prevent kidnapping,  ATMs are located in highly visible areas and the playground equipment is enhanced with safety features.

Getting investors to put in money for savings that are not visible now but can only be seen in the longer term was not easy, says Spinks. Examples of some of the savings are lower energy cost and less water used.

Top: Setia City Mall has an estimated savings of 20% to 30% in energy and more than 40% in water, among others . Bottom: Green Lease was introduced to encourage tenants to install energy efficient equipment and use recycled materials

“It’s always important to be able to demonstrate there will be financial returns and also get them to be confident that this is the right decision and the right way to go.  Another challenge is making sure what we delivered is operated in the way it is intended so they will be able to benefit from the savings. We have to make sure the operators are committed to run the system efficiently,” he adds.

The premium for the green features was about 4% to 5.5%. However, says Spinks, the mall now sees an estimated savings of 20% to 30% in energy and more than 40% in water, among others, which is more beneficial in the long run.

Engaging the people

Meanwhile, the tenants and the public play an important role. S P Setia and Lend Lease introduced Green Lease to encourage tenants to do their part by installing energy efficient equipment and use recycled materials. The maximum power density for the retail, food and beverage areas is 35W per sq m and for food and beverage kitchen area, 85W per sq m.

There was resistance from the tenants in the beginning as this requires higher upfront costs and the measure was a first in Malaysia.

“It’s not just an educational process for us — it is for the tenants too. We had to engage and educate them continuously,” says Khor.

This job fell on the retail delivery team, which worked closely with the tenants to ensure that the latter understood the landlord’s expectations and the requirements of the Green Lease prior to the submissions of fit-out designs. The team recomended green certified products for the fit-out process, contained in an easy-to-follow handbook.

“We’re very happy that the tenants bought into Green Lease and understood the importance of it, and the savings they could have. Some of them are putting their own green elements into their premises and spending extra,” says Khor.

The enthusiasm for green has spread to the regular residents who frequent the mall. “A lot of people are aware this is a green mall but when they first came here, they were surprised to see the lights are not as bright as the other malls. But now, they say, ‘It’s ok, this is a green mall’. They understand,” says Khor.

Displays about the green initiatives that were introduced are placed around the mall to raise awareness.

“We are also looking into community recycling. It’s still a work in progress. The main thing is to engage with the community. I think more than anything, it contributes to the pride the residents have in the local community,” says Spinks.

The mall has an in-house recycling centre manned by full-time staff and equipped with compacting machine to encourage retailers to recycle their waste materials. Currently, the mall has a 24% recycling rate and aims to increase this to between 30% and 50%, which is common in malls in developed countries.

“We’re very proud of the response from the retailers and community. Hopefully, they will tell owners of new malls that this is what they want and from there, the green movement will grow stronger. We need people to push the owners,” shares Khor.

“We’re very honoured to win The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2013 and glad that the hard work has been recognised. We hope that we can influence the industry and more malls will commit to being green,” says Spinks.

Key green features and initiatives
• Energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights • Waste recycling centre
• Intelligent lighting controls via the building management system • Rain water collection tank for irrigation
• Roofing material with high solar reflectance index value • Condensation water collection tank
• High coefficient of performance chillers and high efficiency fans, motors and pumps installed to minimise energy consumption • Building smoke spill system to perform indoor air flushing
• Low-emission glazing to reduce heat • Natural ventilation in the car park
• Low window to wall ratio (30%) and well-designed air conditioning and distribution systems for optimal thermal comfort levels • Priority parking for green vehicles
• Thermal comfort meters installed to predict and maintain the temperature • Bicycle friendly mall with ample parking stands
• All air handling units are equipped with high efficiency motor and high performance fan with total combine efficiency averaging at 65% • Highly efficient air conditioning system on the roof top
• Standby speed escalators and travelators • Landlord and tenants to meet Green Lease conditions with the assistance of Lend Lease sustainability tools
• Bio waste composting bin to convert organic waste into revitalised soil • Sustainability tours to educate and share the mall’s sustainability features with tenants, shoppers, professionals, the youth and the public


This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 14, 2013.

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